Feature: Fresh Flesh for the Feast – A Conversation with Miranda Doerfler

I’ve reviewed this author before. If I’m not mistaken, I’ve ranted a raved about her abilities on both Twitter and Facebook, posted about her on Dreadful Tales, made a gigantic street sign that read MIRANDA4EVR!, and tattooed her face on several unwilling subway riders. Regardless of that, I’d just like to point out that I’m not mentioning her here because I have some strange, stalking tendencies. No no. The restraining order has been lifted, and so have my spirits, because now I have an excuse to shout her praises to the world without actually being obliged to speak about her writing.

But I’ll do that anyways.

The who-what-where of my introduction to this young author begins with the question I ask myself time and time again:

Do I really want to read this piece by someone I don’t know? She’s self-published? Okay… I really have to justify this one. Aw hell, I’m in a good mood, and a few other self-pubbed authors really gave me faith in the fact that good fiction lies in waiting over in Kindle-land. I’ll give it a shot.

And yes, I know that’s a shitty place to be when you’re a reviewer, but let’s face it… this genre is rife with garbage sometimes.

After cracking open and devouring Modern-Day Horrors, her second self published collection of short stories, I was completely blown away and in need of more. I quickly gathered her first, Brimstone Nightmares, and soon after queried her third collection, From Blood and Brain, devouring both with reckless abandon. To tell you that I was thoroughly impressed by this author would be a total understatement. She brings flair, style, and charisma to a genre that yearns for new authors like this. Her age is continually betrayed by her weighty, oftentimes sophisticated prose – something you don’t tend to see from upstarts and younger authors. To completely date myself and fall into old man status, she’s one of those youngsters you just know is gonna go somewhere.

I can also tell you that Miranda is the first self published author I ever actually queried for another book or collection.

Now, there are obviously rough spots in her pieces, and her youthful exuberance shines through in a lot of cases, but these are stories that stay deep in your psyche, are fully realized, and would make the switch from page to screen effortlessly. Doerfler’s ability to create dynamic characters at the same time as setting a particularly terrifying setting is the reason I haven’t given up on the indie circuit altogether. She’s a breath of fresh air, and a spurt of good life in what sometimes seems to be a stagnant genre. Her modern terrors bring a different look at the things that go bump in the night, and her borderline genre-crossing leaves more room to work with a career than can be said for most.

This is a woman who knows what she wants, and what she wants is to just tell a good story. And that’s what this giggly young lady does. She spins a damned good yarn.

When you listen to my conversation with Miranda Doerfler, you’ll come across the very reason that I wanted to showcase her here. She’s articulate but bubbly, serious but funny, and wholly dedicated to her craft. But most of all, she doesn’t regard herself as a “Woman in Horror”. She’s a writer. That’s how she identifies herself. As a writer.

That’s the most important part of this genre, this art, to me. It’s not about being a particular gender in a strange landscape… it’s about the stories.

So without further ado, I’d like to present to you my favorite indie female horror author, Miranda Doerfler. You can check her out at her website, and all over the web in other places.

C.

A Slice of Indie

This is a brand new feature here on Dreadful Tales, and one that we’re excited about. You all know that we know our stuff when it comes to the big names and publishers, and we’re damn good with the mid-sized presses. What we’re going to look at here are indie authors – or self-published authors if you prefer – and small press. While there has been a great deal of discussion on the quality of the work produced by independent/self-published authors, rest assured that we (I) have filtered through and will only be bringing you news and reviews of quality work. The only difference will be that you may not have heard of the authors before.

For this piece, we’re going to stick with announcements/on-sales from both December and January. Without further ado, here’s some good reading from folks you might not necessarily know. Click on the author or publisher’s name to be taken to their site.

Thea Isis Gregory – 3rd installment of her Zombie Bedtime Stories, Deadlocked was released just before Christmas. I’ve read her teaser story The Zombie’s Bride, her style is both satirical and brutal.

Guido Henkel – The 11th story in his Jason Dark series, Fu Manchu’s Vampire is scheduled to release sometime in January. Henkel has also compiled the first 3 books of the Jason Dark series into the Jason Dark Supernatural Mystery Collection 1. Books 1-3 are some of Guido’s strongest works, check them out.

Dark Moon Books – Their quarterly magazine Dark Moon Digest has just hit shelves with its 6th installment. They are also open for submissions from January 1 – February 29th.

William CookAngelic Knight Press have released Blood Related for Kindle on December 27th. The book has some fantastic blurbs from well respected authors. Keep an eye out on the press as well for their anthologies, they’re often accepting submissions.

Brian Johnson – Released his novel Hell To Pay some time ago digitally, but as of December 18th, the book is available on paperback.

Marissa Farrar – Has re-released her novel The Dark Road on Kindle, with print dates forthcoming.

Miranda Doerfler – Will be releasing her fourth short story collection Shadows At Dusk in early January. Colum had a chance to review one of her earlier works here.

Red TashThis Brilliant Darkness is now exclusive to Amazon, has a number of wonderful reviews and is now available in paperback.

CW LaSart – Plans to unleash Ad Nauseum – 13 Tales of Extreme Horror will be released in early January in every format imaginable.

G.R. Yeates – Expects to continue his Vetala Cycle series with the third installment Hell’s Teeth on January 20th.

Carole Gill – Released 13 Short Sharp Tales of Horror on December 8th.

Dark Continents Publishing – Have released Scott Nicholson‘s Monster’s Ink as of December 15th. Scott is an avid ambassador for the indie movement, and helps indie authors through the Indie Book Blog.

That’s all I’ve got for this edition. Remember to make Dreadful Tales your homepage, like us on Facebook, and follow us on Twitter. If you’d like to be included in a future post, or find out what’s going on in my world, here’s my blog or follow me on Twitter.

Modern Day Horrors by Miranda Doerfler

I love discovering new authors. There isn’t a single thing in the literary world that makes me feel better about working on this site, reading compulsively, or hell… even having eyeballs in my face. There’s a thrill to it, a quickening of the pulse when you stumble upon something new. Fresh meat. Something unspoiled by the publishing world. Something… innocent.

Recently, I was queried about taking a look at a very brief collection of short stories by the above mentioned author – her second publication. Miranda sent me a message on Twitter asking if I’d check this out, and of course I obliged. Apart from what I think is an unfortunate front cover, I’m very glad that I did.

This collection may not have all of the markings of a seasoned pro, but I can say for sure this this young woman has one hell of a career ahead of her if she sticks it out.

From Amazon:

A Collection of short stories portraying the dangerous pitfalls of the 21st century. Includes “Missed Call” “Blind Date,” “Game Over” and the second installment of a bonus short story exclusive to Kindle, “Black & White*.”

*DT-Note – As I have yet to read the first installment to Black & White, I will not include it in the review but to say that it has somewhat of a Gagliani/Ketchum feel to it so far. Which, to me, is a very good sign.

The stories included are pretty much as short as the synopsis is. Thats said, where Doerfler lacks in length, she more than makes up with ample amounts of action, gore, sexual tension, and – most importantly – a genuine understanding of how to craft a short horror story. None of the tales within radiate a completely original theme, but it’s Doerfler’s expert handle on the English language that makes each and every one stand out as if it was the first time anybody wrote about these subjects. Let me elaborate:

Missed Call sees he main character – Craig – put in a terrifying situation. While at a meeting at his office, he receives a phone call from his friend Russ. He ignores the call, letting it go to the machine. When he finally picks up the message, he finds something truly terrifying waiting for him. From here on out, Doerfler rampages through the whole “cat and mouse” game of a victim running from his mysterious assailant, but it’s the way she does it that stands out. Her words flow like a violent wave crashing through a small village. She crafts terrifying visuals and thrilling sequences with brutally short sentences, allowing the natural course of action to take place. In this case, that course of action ends up being a nasty experience for the main character.

Blind Date feels somewhat like a Lee/Laymon-esque foray into body horror, teeming with a sexuality that ultimately feels almost like Doerfler was holding back. The tension is there, the motives are there, even the erotic visuals are there. Regardless, it feels like the author pulled back in order to focus on something else, which is a shame really. What this story is huge on is gore, which Doerfler writes beautifully. Gore-hounds are going to get a kick out of this tasty bit of body horror. Again, the story is simple enough to play with – a man is set up on a blind date, only to find out much later that the woman he meets is a little more than he can handle. And boy, does Doerfler make sure he handles a lot.

The best of the lot comes in last. Game Over starts with a premise that is, to me, a tired cliché of the whole technological-age-meets-horror-stories thing. But as I was soon to find out, when Doerfler gets her hands on something, she really doesn’t stop until she completely owns it. Check this out: Drake’s father is the president/owner of a very large video game company, and has the latest “new thing” to hit the gaming industry in his possession. This machine is called “The Vortex” – a gaming system not unlike virtual reality. The biggest different here is that when the character in the game gets hurt, so does the player. Drakes father forbids him from playing with it until it’s been tested, but he sneaks into the entertainment room, straps himself in, and soon finds himself in the sleepy little Puritan town called Somber Valley. There, he finds himself face to face with nearly invulnerable monsters, a whole lot of trouble, and a terrifying, but important, quest.

Of all three stories, I’d have to say that this one is my favorite. It just radiates a gothic feel, brimming with darkness, things that go bump in the night, and enough blood-soaked scenes to keep this reader satisfied. Doerfler writes like a pro with this one. There really isn’t much else I can say. It’s a very fast read, but ends way too abruptly for my liking. The overall feel does a lot to save that, though.

Like I said, It’s not often that something like this comes my way, but I’m always excited when it does.

Now, here’s the kicker: Miranda Doerfler is just this side of her 21st birthday, ensuring us that we’ll get to take a look at her career in the making. If she keeps writing at this calibre, and works to refine her style as her own completely, I have absolutely no trouble seeing her star rise to new heights in this genre. This is that innocent, new, fresh meat that I was talking about earlier. And me, I’m bloodthirsty now, and yearning for more.

Check her out at her website, and grab Modern Day Horrors at Amazon and Smashwords.

C.